Learn It Once... Use It Often™ - Keyframing
In messiah virtually everything can be animated; not just objects, but most attributes as well. And everything uses the same system, so once you learn it, you can use it everywhere. This section will give you the basics of what you need to know for keyframing, whether it's objects, bones, light colors, or whatever.
The first thing to know is that in messiah all channels are separate. But since not everyone likes to work the same way, you have plenty of options for how to choose the channels that keyframes will be made on. Better yet, as you can see in the below right image, the main control for this is sitting right at the bottom of the World View, so it's always within easy reach (you can also press g on your keyboard to cycle through the choices). This control is called Key Edit. Its real home is on the Edit tab, as you can see in the below left image. That's where you will find several other keyframing settings. For more information about those options, click here.
You can either set the Key Edit option on the Key/Frame Editing block on the Edit tab (above left), or using the pulldown on the lower right of the World View (above, right). This setting controls what channels get keyframes when you create or modify a key. It works in conjunction with the Active Edit feature (see below).
The Active Edit pop-up is located at the top left of the Motion Graph. It lets you choose what items to perform certain actions on. Click on it and choose from the pop-up list. The Active Edit setting is used with things like the Create Key pop-up (press Enter), Transform Key Range, Distort Key Range and others. It tells messiah what you want to apply those actions to. The choices in the pop-up are:
Current Item - Shows/applies to the current item only
Descendents - Applies to the current item and its children
Hierarchy - Applies to the current item and the entire hierarchy is part of (if it is part of one)
Group - Applies to the entire Group that the current item is part of. Auto Primary Group - When choosing a group that is not the Primary, that group will automatically be set as primary for the current item
Selected Items - Applies to the selected items
All Items - Applies to all items in the scene
Use Item List - Applies to whatever is in the Item List (respecting the Item List Filter)
The Motion Graph
The Motion Graph is used for all animation, whether it is objects, sliders, Camera zooms, textures, etc. It sits at the bottom of the interface at all times, and when you bring it up it doesn't cover the World View. To enlarge it or shrink it, just drag from the divider bar.
The image below might look a little scary, but it's actually very simple. And rather than go into a lot of detail here, just take a look, then try it out for yourself. You'll see that it's very easy. Here's where you can get lots of additional information: Motion Graph Motion Graph Basics
Active/Inactive Keyframes: I'm going to assume that you already know what a keyframe is. But messiah also has something called Inactive Keyframes. An Inactive Keyframe is a keyframe that is not active on one or more channels but is active on one or more others. For example, if your Key Edit option (see above) is set to Independent, and you make a keyframe at frame 10 on the Z channel, then there will automatically be an Inactive Keyframe on all of the other channels too. So if you go to frame 10 and select the Y channel, you will see an Inactive Keyframe in the Motion Graph and World View.
Inactive keyframes will not affect the animation at all, but if you want, you can activate them so they will. They become normal keyframes when activated. All keyframes can be activated and de-activated at any time, even while the animation is playing, and that's one of the really great things about them. It really helps when you want to see how a particular key is affecting the animation. The image below shows a keyframe being activated and de-activated. In this sample the animation is not playing, but as I said, you can activate and de-activate while it is. Note: You can also set messiah to hide these Inactive Keyframes, though we recommend not hiding them, because it can be very helpful to see them. For additional information, click here.
To do this, just go to the Motion block and you'll see little colored circles to the right of the channel names (X, Y, Z, etc.).
Key Modifier Buttons:
These little buttons are visible wherever there are channels. For example on the Motion block where you set keyframes for items. The colors are coded and are consistent throughout the program, for everything from these buttons here, to the channels on the Edit Sphere and Sliders, to the Motion Graph, etc. For example, the channel in the images below is for channel 1 (which is xpos for things that use it as a motion channel). Channel 2 is always light green, channel 3 is light blue, etc.
Visible/Hidden - Channels can be visible or hidden in the World View gadgets (Edit Sphere and Sliders). To hide or unhide, right-click on the Key Modifier button for that channel.
Keyframe Active/Inactive - When there is a keyframe on the current frame, a little key icon will appear in the Key Modifier button. To make the key inactive, left-click on the Key Modifier button. For information about active/inactive keys, click here.
Static/Dynamic - See next entry for information about this.
(Key Modifier images below are enlarged for easier viewing.)
Static and Dynamic
There are two types of channels in messiah: Static and Dynamic. Dynamic channels are animatable. If you've used other animation packages you are, no doubt, quite familiar with dynamic channels. If you're not familiar with them, the simple explanation is that they are channels that you can make keyframes for, and therefore animate. But there may be certain items/channels that you don't want to be animated. For example, you might not want to animate the camera's Aperture Height, or the position of a texture map. So these channels can be set channels to be Static (some of those types are already set to Static by default). When it's set to Static, the channel will have the same value no matter the current frame. So if you're on frame 30 and you modify the channel, it will modify it for the whole scene, not just frame 30; in other words, it won't make-- or let you make-- a keyframe.
Middle-click to change between Static and Dynamic. (The key icon in the lower one means that there's a keyframe on the current frame; it's not the "Dynamic" symbol. When there's no keyframe on the current frame, there's no key icon, it's just an empty circle.) You'll see these Static/Dynamic settings for each channel in messiah.
A motion spline is visual representation of the values of an item at any given instant in time. When you look at the Motion Graph you will see keyframes at certain intervals, with a line flowing through and connecting them. That line is the motion curve (or motion spline). Actually, "motion" might not be the best word, since it's not just motion that the splines are for. For example, it could be a spline for a light intensity, or a color intensity, or the camera's Zoom, etc. But it just makes things easier to call it by one name, "motion spline." The spline's shape, and the tools available to shape it, are probably the most important things in animation. In messiah, those tools reside on the Spline block.
The Spline block is used with all splines, whether By default all motion curves are set to TCB (Tension, Bias, Continuity), and with Euler angles. That is how most 3D software is, so it shouldn't be anything new to you even though you might be new to messiah. The basic idea of this block is that it contains tools to help you shape the motion curve as it flows through the keyframes. For example, do you want the frames between keys to be linear (a straight line), or have a nice ease-in and ease-out (curving) around the keys? Those things determine how the motion plays. The other thing that you set on the Spline block is the End behavior of the spline. In other words, what should happen after the last keyframe. For example, you can have the motion repeat, or stop, or reset, etc. For more information, click here.
Any time you see something like this: it means that you can animate that channel. Just click on it to select it then animate it just like any other channel. If you want to animate it, make sure it is set for Dynamic (see Static and Dynamic, above).
To delete a keyframe, press the Delete key or use the Delete button under the motion graph. If you left-click on the Delete button you will delete the keyframe based on the Key Edit setting. So, for example, depending how you have that set, you might just be deleting the key on that channel, or maybe only that channel group (such as all motion, or all rotation), etc. If you right-click on Delete, or use the Delete key, you will delete the key on all channels.
Well, that's the basics of messiah. All of the information on this page and the GUI Basics page is stuff you'll use throughout the program. It might seem like a lot, but in practically no time it will become second nature. Enjoy!
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